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The Australia Connected package was announced on 18 June 2007. Up to $958 million ($600 million from Broadband Connect Infrastructure Program funding and an additional $358 million in funding) was allocated towards a new national wholesale network which will deliver high speed broadband to rural and regional Australia.
DCITA welcomes outcome of ANAO review
The Secretary of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Ms Patricia Scott, today welcomed the outcome of a review by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) regarding the probity of processes under the Government’s Broadband Connect Infrastructure Program.
The Department’s records and advice indicated that only one applicant had sought information on whether more than $600 million could be available and that the Department had advised that it could not comment.
The Department had made a general statement, not specific to the Broadband Connect Infrastructure Program, that the Government may commit further funds if it believed additional funding was justified and would bring significant benefits. The ANAO noted that although it would have been prudent for the Department to have issued a general clarification on this matter, it was not apparent that the information concerning the potential availability of additional funds had any discernable impact on the assessment process and the selection of the preferred applicant from that process.
The ANAO also stated that in its view, it was open to Government on the basis of departmental advice, to agree to negotiations being pursued with the preferred applicant and to commit to an increase in the program’s funding, subject to having appropriate parliamentary appropriation.
The Department’s records showed that OPEL did not bid for more than $600 million in its application.
The ANAO noted that the Department had informed its Minister that all applications had been assessed strictly in accordance with the program guidelines, that OPEL Networks’ proposal was ranked significantly ahead of the other proposals at the final comparative assessment stage, and that OPEL Networks’ additional proposal was negotiated after its selection as the preferred applicant.
There was no impropriety in this process.